Sal heard the door swing open. He ignored it; it was not an unfamiliar noise. This was a bar, after all.

Just another customer. And he enjoyed this, enjoyed the bar. He enjoyed the ambience, the customers, the atmosphere. It was far more relaxed, far more enjoyable, far less… complicated than his last assignment. While yes, the bar was a front to a degree, this mask was one that sat comfortably, and which brought its own rewards.

"Boss," he heard one of his boys speak, "slight situation here." He looked up at the speaker, who nodded in turn towards the figure who'd arrived at the bar. She – for so the figure in a hoodie appeared – hardly seemed the typical crowd, as sedate as the bar was. She seemed young. More to the point, she also appeared to be Human.

That was trouble.

Everyone else in the bar was Faunus. He was Faunus, his boys were Faunus, the bartender was Faunus, the customers were all Faunus. Maybe there was some place, somewhere, where that wouldn't be an issue.

It was when the establishment was a front for the White Fang.

Most local Humans knew better than to walk in here. And since this place didn't cause any direct trouble, the local police could be paid off too. Too much trouble, however, and that blind eye could be turned back. That was a situation he would prefer to avoid, both for the sake of the Fang and for his own sake. He was loyal to the cause, but he'd had his recent fill of trouble.

The girl was speaking to the bartender, who was shaking his head in turn. It seemed she wasn't taking no for an answer, or any subtle hints to leave. It was annoying, but he knew he had to intervene. Sal stood, a glance at his boys indicating they were to follow him. He saw clientele beginning to leave as he made his way to the bar. Smart, but another thing he begrudged the human for. The bar may serve another purpose, but it also made good money, and they were losing some tonight. He gestured for his men to spread around the girl, Frank and Jae behind, Big Tom to the other side, while he made his way to the left.

Huh, was that a bunny on that hoodie? It struck a discordant note, an image at odds with where this situation was going.

The bartender was still trying to get the girl to leave. "Look lady, you're in the wrong place! You should just get out of here!"

"He's right, kid," Sal interjected. "It'd be better for all of us – but especially you – if you turn around and leave. I don't know what you're thinking, but it's not going anywhere good."

Her head snapped round to look at him. He saw glimmering green eyes beneath the hoodie stare at him.

"You have a Valish accent," she said in a soft voice.

His ears – his true ears – twitched. Soft and gentle as her voice was, there was an edge there.

"Yes, I do," he replied. "So what? I come from there." Her gaze did not flinch, and as he paused sudden realisation struck. "Is that what this is about?" They'd had to deal with a couple of human hotheads because of Vale. More trouble. It'd been… resolved, but too many incidents like that – especially over a young girl – and the local fuzz wouldn't stay away no matter how many palms were greased.

"I hear you were there," she coldly stated.

The tone, the certainty. This wasn't some impetuous bigot taking it out on the nearest Faunus. This teenager – she couldn't be much older – knew something and had some personal stake in the matter. He sighed, and glanced once more at his boys, catching their eye. It looked like this was going the ugly way. Good thing the bar was now clear.

"Yeah, I was there, kid. Wasn't a particularly nice experience for anybody. But you don't want to do this. I'm sure you're hurting, but you'll just get hurt more this way. And it won't bring back anyone you've lost."

"I didn't lose anyone. He was taken from me."

Another sigh. Trouble. Sal scratched his head, and Big Tom – now behind her - caught his signal, readying a crowbar.

"Look, kid," Sal began, but he was caught by surprise as she pulled down her hood.

A young girl, after all. Pretty too, with scarlet – though crudely shorn - hair, and brilliant, emerald eyes. In fact, she wasn't just pretty, she was beautiful, the sort of face that could appear on magazine covers.

Wait, she wasn't just the sort of face that could... she had.

"Hang on, aren't you...?" he began asking.

For a brief moment everything seemed to freeze, a sudden stillness when she looked right into him, and she looked he realised that whatever beauty there was in her face, there was nothing pretty remaining in the light in her eyes.

She moved first, a knife suddenly in her hand. She threw it forward, and – as if propelled – it drove into his shoulder and shoved him against the wall. Big Tom made to strike down with the crowbar, but it stopped solid in the air. The girl gestured, and the crowbar was flung back, taking the bear Faunus with it and smacking him into the tables behind.

Frank and Jae responded fast, pulling out their guns and taking aim at the girl. Yet the pistols trembled, and as the girl raised her hand their aim shifted, inch by inch, until they were pointing at each other. They both cried out, before the guns opened fire: once, twice, thrice, and both were down.

Sal looked on in horror, his shoulder burning with pain, as he struggled to pull his own sidearm out. The bartender proved quicker, pulling a firearm out from under the bar. The girl responded, somersaulting over the bar, her arm outstretched in Sal's direction. He yelled out as the dagger was yanked from his shoulder and flew into her hand.

Her arm moved with blinding speed. The bartender never had a chance.

Big Tom rose again from the ruin of the table beneath him, shaking off the earlier blow. Yet their assailant was quicker, back over the bar and somehow Tom's crowbar was in her other hand. Big Tom was tough and strong, and made to block the incoming attack, but he proved helpless as she first struck one side, then another. She ducked a punch before kicking out, knocking Tom back with a flash of a broken aura. The crowbar flew… and it was over.

Fighting through the pain and shock, Sal had managed to being his pistol to bear on the girl as she now turned on him. He fired, but the bullet never struck as she flicked her hand. Another movement, and the gun was wrenched from his hand and sent spinning off into the corner. The knife flew once more to pierce his other shoulder, the force of the blow once more driving him against the wall.

As he wrestled against the pain, he looked on her with new eyes. He looked around the bar. His men were dead… killed by…

"You killed them!" he gasped.

Her eyes fixed upon him, she walked towards him. "Those you work for had already turned me into a killer," she spat.

As she drew close, one eye suddenly appeared wreathed in flame. She extended one hand, palm up, and fire appeared. This was no mere illusion, he could feel the heat as it approached his skin, as it got nearer and nearer.

"What are you?" he asked.

"I? I am simply a young maiden, grieving for my beloved," she replied. "And I want you to tell me everything you know about Cinder Fall."


Author's Note: I really didn't expect to write any more fanfiction, but the muse would not leave me along on this one. Obviously a story where a few key events went a little differently from canon. It might be a one-shot, but the muse continues to bedevil me, and I already have several drafted scenes and an outline of the whole thing if I take it any further.